How Sheffield businessman turned his life around after years on the streets
A former drug addict has hailed the ‘outstanding’ support that put him back on his feet – and helped him win a top Sheffield business award.
James Creed, aged 38, cleaned up after years of addiction and homelessness and dedication to his job saw him crowned ‘Business Personality of the Year’ at The Star Small Business Awards.
James, who is operations manager at screen printing business, Printed By Us, said he was stunned by his win.
He praised the Cathedral Archer Project and Just Works Programme which helped him become a success at work and a good dad-of-four, including 15 month old triplet boys.
He said: “It’s still sinking in, it feels amazing.
“I’m very proud to win this award and be in a situation where I can be a good role model for my children, I have had outstanding care.
“It also reinforces why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’d say to anyone in the situation I was in that it’s never too late, ask for help because no one can do it on their own and if it feels scary and daunting it’s probably the best thing for you.”
After moving to Sheffield in 2012, James slept on a friend’s floor and used the Cathedral Archer Project for two-and-a-half years before deciding he’d had enough.
He started volunteering at CAP and after four months joined the Just Works Programme. It led to him working at Printed By Us when it launched three years ago.
The nine-strong business prints T-shirts, mugs, tote bags and designs from city artists including Pete McKee using equipment at Sheffield Print Club on Lenton Street.
Online sales were up 200 per cent last year and proceeds are ploughed back into the project.
James’ commitment prompted colleague Daniela Orrego to enter him in The Star’s awards.
He said: “I originally thought: ‘Why am I on the shortlist?’ And when I was announced as the winner I was surprised – but it’s great to get the recognition.”
James, who was born in Hayfield, Derbyshire, was involved in drugs for 17 years. In that time he lived in tents, ‘sofa-surfed’ and was homeless for seven years after losing his flat in North Wales.
He said: “It was a desperate existence.”
Now, he lives with partner Joanna Gosling, her six-year-old son Oscar and their triplets Harry, Oliver and Silas. The boys were born in March last year, just after he became operations manager at Printed By Us.
James said: “It was massively challenging, an incredibly intense period of round-the-clock care.
“Just Works have always believed in me and supported me, I want to thank programme manager Terry Murphy and all the staff at the Cathedral Archer Project.”
The Star’s managing editor Rob Hollingworth, was one of the Small Business Awards judges.
He said: “We were impressed by James' journey from a desperate situation to one which gives hope to all of us.
“His determination to make something of himself and his appetite to learn shows just what can be achieved with hard work and a positive attitude.
“The judges agreed James is a credit to the project which supported him - and to himself.”